Dallas Fire-Rescue (DFR) recently informed the City that the latter’s plan to rent badly-needed fire trucks has not fully addressed Dallas’ critical firetruck shortage as one of two truck rentals recently delivered to DFR has already broken down.
The Dallas Express previously reported on DFR’s firetruck shortage and how one solution the City came up with for the second largest fire department in Texas involved renting firetrucks from third-party suppliers.
DFR typically has 23 fully-equipped ladder firetrucks spread out across the city among its 59 fire stations.
Ten frontline trucks out of 23 are currently out of commission due to mechanical issues, per WFAA. However, seven older backup trucks have all been pulled from reserve and put into service, leaving DFR with a shortage of three, according to a DFR memo to the City.
Two rental trucks from fire equipment vendor Siddons-Martin were supposed to plug in most of the gap, but with one having failed, DFR is still short two trucks.
“The state of our fleet is struggling, for lack of a better word,” said Dallas Fire Fighters Association President Jim McDade, speaking with WFAA. “It’s all come to a head suddenly. Can we deal with it? Yes. Is it optimal? Absolutely not.”
Affected fire stations include stations 4, 36, and 53, according to McDade.
Two of the main challenges DFR faces are supply chain disruptions and understaffed city mechanic services.
Ladder trucks are highly specialized machines and need specific parts and mechanical knowledge.
“These trucks have hydraulic systems on them, they have diesel engines, they have mechanical pumps, and they’re very technical,” stated McDade.
“We’re down probably 10 mechanics right now,” said McDade. “The City doesn’t pay them enough, and they’re going into the private industry, it’s hard to recruit them.”
Because of parts and labor shortages, some firetrucks could take anywhere from a month to four months to become fully operational again, according to McDade.
“That’s a very long time, and those are just estimates,” he said.
“While a shortage of available apparatus can represent a significant challenge to DFR, this is a temporary situation that we can and will manage,” DFR previously stated in its memo to the City.
Despite assurances from the DFR, McDade remains concerned.
“My fear is that we don’t improve. My fear is that we will have some sort of bad accident. I mean, we’re talking up to 120 days, and more apparatuses are probably going to have issues in that time,” McDade said.
“These trucks didn’t all break overnight, this has occurred over the past few months. It needs to be addressed,” he added.
The Dallas Express reached out to DFR for comment but has not received a response at the time of publishing.